5/5 stars for excellence in everything (writing, plot, themes, characterization, etc), and 4/4 hearts for spiritual strength and healing hearts.
About the book:
Three life-long friends experience life-altering struggles. Will they find the strength to be faithful to the covenants they've made with God...and each other? Cydney Sanders thought she knew God's plan for her life. She'd marry, have kids, and then snap her body back into shape with Tae Bo. But she's celebrating her fortieth birthday as the maid of honor at her little sister's wedding . . . and still single. Why would God give her this desire to marry, but no husband? And why is her life suddenly complicated by the best man-who's the opposite of what she wants in a husband? Cydney's best friend Dana has the perfect marriage. But when Dana discovers her husband's affair, her world goes into a tailspin. And Phyllis is out of hope after six years of unanswered prayers for her husband to find faith. When she runs into an old friend who is the Christian man she longs for, she's faced with an overwhelming choice. With life falling apart around them, can they trust God like never before?
I SO love the cover of this book. Now that I've read the story, I see the symbolism in it, and that made me appreciate the cover even more. I'm glad that the author was "Faithful" to write this book as I believe it will benefit a lot of people and I can easily see why it was chosen for Women of Faith. I hope I don't give away any spoilers in my review, but it's from my heart, so please forgive me if I do...
As far as realism goes, I found this book to be very sincere and believable. I sensed the author's heart for marriage and healing in this story. I could tell that she poured her heart into the message that was so skillfully woven into the story. This book, while dealing with Scriptures, church, and other Christian themes, did not feel preachy at all. I dislike preachy stories. This was so natural in flow and theme that I didn't feel like a sermon was being preached. That is a good thing, especially if people of weak faith read this book. It won't turn them off to the message.
Having known people in just about every situation written about in this story, I found the conflict to be well done. It showed the dark side of sin and temptation without getting too ugly. So many books where women were cheated on show rage that goes on and on and frankly, that gets old. I want to walk into the pages and tell the characters, "A-hem, you are supposed to love Jesus and believe in grace and forgiveness, remember?"
There was such a godly balance in this story that was refreshing. The author didn't shy away from showing the beauty of marital love and true peace in the home. These issues are so important and many authors skim over them, probably out of fear that it won't be well-received. I loved how deep the author delved into the story regarding the marital themes. Sex in marriage is beautiful and if the author had totally shied away from showing this, then the book would have been weak, at best. I also loved how the author showed that honesty is essential in any relationship for it to be solid enough to withstand temptation. Real love doesn't hold back.
Things tied up well at the end, but the story wasn't too neatly wrapped up. Some situations were still unresolved, but this wasn't bad because it was dealt with in such a way that it worked for the story. There was a very positive ending to this book, and in this current economy I think readers will find that refreshing as well. I'll bet that many couples aren't divorcing right now because it's simply too expensive to do that, so they live in misery. Kim shows that marriage is worth fighting for, and that friends need to support each other through the hard times.
I loved Cyd's struggle with Cedric. I've known guys who were players and honestly, after they've been doing that for years, some guys simply tire out from living the playboy lifestyle and start to regret the lack of true intimacy in their relationships. A strong Christian woman would be very attractive to a man who is tired of playing the field. I loved how she sensed the need to be cautious and not give in to the desires she felt because she'd just turned forty and had been faithfully single for many years. I also loved how she sought the Lord in regards to the relationship and listened to his voice. Plus, she was accountable to other women who were Christians.
I felt Phyllis's agony over the lack of spiritual connection with her husband and can see how easily that could be a snare for a woman who wanted more from their marriage. I also understood her husband's pain and the reason for his issues. This was powerfully done. I found it very realistic in regards to the temptation she felt and the emotions she experienced while fighting her emotional demons. In essence, she was having an emotional affair and that can be just as hard to break in some ways. But friends, faith, and good fellowship helped turn her around. I loved how much these ladies prayed for each other, too.
Dana's painful situation probably touched my heart the most. I loved the message in this subplot as well. Dana felt all of the emotions and grief that a woman would feel in her situation, but did so with a heart who had a personal relationship with the Lord. So she was sensitive to His voice. She also loved her husband. So many people think adultery is a rift that can never be repaired in a marriage. I've known several couples who have healed after adultery and it was always because both parties wanted to work it out, and while grieving, the person sinned against was willing to work through the pain rather than beating up the spouse that hurt them.
I loved how Scott never gave up and was willing to publicly humiliate himself for a greater purpose. Despite his mistakes he was committed to their marriage. I believed he was sincere and his confession sounded totally realistic to me. The whole church body benefited from his boldness. And Dana was such a wonderful example to all women who have been hurt. The message about Israel being unfaithful to God and how we are all unfaithful at times was a good one. We all need to be aware that we are capable of falling. It's when we stand on our own self-righteousness that we're the most vulnerable.
This book was so awesome that I almost read it straight through. It ranks high on my list of favorites for 2010. I've read a lot of good books this year and this was one of the most inspiring for me personally. I highly recommend it.
Faithful was published by Thomas Nelson and published in Sept 2010. This novel was provided to me for review by the publisher, however, this doesn't mean that I have post a favorable review. This is my honest opinion of the book.